9 cycling mistakes you’re making, and how to fix them
You don’t have to be a newbie cyclist to prove guilty of any of these cycling mistakes. Whether you’ve just bought a new road bike, or you’ve been hitting trails since the days of downhill legend Steve Peat, it’s worth nipping these bad habits in the bud, once and for all.
1. Leaving the house without spares
If you’re one of those cyclists who leaves the house without a cycling bag, laden with the all important spares, you’re on borrowed time until the inevitable happens, and you’re stuck on the road with no way of getting anywhere.
The fix = Spares which we think you’d be silly to leave without are the following:
- inner tube(s)
- a mini bike pump
- tyre levers
- a mini tool kit
2. Not taking any food or water on a ride
You can be forgiven for assuming, well, you’ll no doubt be stopping at some point for coffee and cake, but it’s best to be prepared for all scenarios. If you’re riding for an hour or less, you might not need any fuel, but you’ll definitely appreciate a drink of water.
If you’re on the road for longer than an hour, it’s definitely worth taking food, which you should consume around the 45-minute mark. Forgetting to eat can cause tiredness, irritability, dizziness and even nausea. Or, worse still, all of the aforementioned.
Fix = make sure your water bottle is full and attached to your bike. It doesn’t hurt actually to take two bottles. Also, play it safe by taking more fuel food than you’ll actually need. Think; nuts, dried fruit, bananas, and perhaps a gel for that last climb or the unexpected bonk.
3. Poor bike fit
Whether you’re positioned too high or too low, this can have a huge effect on your power, as your legs are forced to work overtime either way.
Fix = If you want to get the best position possible, the first call should be a bike fitting from a trained professional. These can range from £30 to £300, depending on the kit used, skill and time taken. Alternatively, check out this guide by Cycling Weekly on bike fitting at home to manage this yourself.
4. Ignoring your body’s recovery messages
Whether your a beginner, amateur or a pro, sleep plays a vital role in performance. When you’re upping the training hours, recovery time is vital in being able to go on performing. When you’re fitting riding around a day job like most of us are, it might seem like a struggle getting those eight hours sleep in, but it’s the best remedy to perform better on the bike.
Fix = check out BikeRadar’s guide on getting a good night’s sleep for a great day of cycling.
5. Riding too much, too soon
We all have our own reasons for cycling. Whether it’s to keep fit, to commute, or simply because there is no greater feeling that hitting the open road with your pals on a group ride, try and avoid the overkill. You may you have missed a few days riding, but that doesn’t mean doubling up the missed hours for the ultimate session. You’ll end up damaging your body, and only adding reasons to avoid the bike again for a while.
Fix =If you want to get the most out of your available time, then you may want to consider a personal cycle coach. Check out this article by Bicycling Magazine on choosing the right coach for you.
6. Not being able to unclip
Switching to clip-less pedals is a great way of increasing overall cycling, however I think I speak for most of us when I say getting used to unclipping safely can be challenging. Whether it’s the first time you’re using clips, or you’ve just had a new pair of bike shoes, take the time to practice unclipping before you hit the road.
Fix = unclip early when approaching traffic lights, or any stationary situation. Check out this video by Global Cycling Network on unclipping like a pro!
7. Bike maintenance
You mightn’t even be aware that your bike isn’t being maintained properly, but chances are if you bought your bike online, or you had to assemble the bike yourself, the bike isn’t as well-tuned as it could be. Poor bike tuning can result in back pain, aching knees and saddle sores if ridden too long, not to mention the fact it’s bad for the bike.
Fix = Check if you’re entitled to a free bike maintenance check-up as part of the warranty when the bike was bought. Alternatively, visit your local bike shop for a professional tune-up. Again these can range from £30 to £300, depending on the kit used, skill and time taken
Following having your bike professionally looked at, you can do regular maintenance checks on your bike each month at home. Check out this bike maintenance guide by BBC Sport.
8. Not respecting group etiquette
Although there is no group riding currently allowed, when we eventually do return to normal (hopefully soon!), it’s important to know the rules of riding in a group, if you haven’t actually done so before. You might think,“Surely it’s not too dissimilar than cycling on your tod?” Well, you’d be wrong. Group riding requires diligence and being mindful of your fellow riders in the peloton.
9. Braking left right and centre, literally
This habit is mostly carried out by the newcomers to cycling, and it’s something every cyclist can remember doing; reaching for the brakes quick and hard. Braking should always be done in a controlled manner, as otherwise you’ll end up taking a little trip over the handle bars. Also, braking too sharply on a descent can cause you to lose control.
Fix = applying light or gradual pressure on both brakes at the same time is more effective than slamming them on. All of your braking should be done before you enter corners, and if you arrive at a corner and realise you’re going too fast, straighten the bike and lightly apply pressure to the brakes.
For more information, check out this video by the guys from Global Cycling Network.